Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Epiphany Gifts

Epiphany is coming up on January 6. It celebrates the coming of the Magi to Bethlehem, where the Wise Men worshiped the Christ child and gave him gifts. This is where Christians got the idea of giving gifts at Christmas.

This week I read a very insightful post about Epiphany by Jim Burklo on his blog “Musings,” which is one of the few blogs that I read regularly. It is entitled Epiphany in a Box. In it he describes an intriguing variation on holiday gift-giving. He writes:

Years ago, my dear wife, Roberta Maran, came up with an idea at Christmas that enchanted me.  “In addition to other presents, let’s give people Christmas boxes that have nothing inside of them – except messages that are deep and pithy!”

Last Sunday they introduced that practice to their church in Simi Valley, California, where he serves as pastor. He explains:

So I put slips of paper into little Christmas-ey boxes and put them on the altar.  We sat in a circle, and I passed them out to the congregants to present to the person next to them and then open and discuss with each what they found on their slips of paper.  Lively conversations ensued.

Here is a partial list of the messages in the boxes:

  • A day’s supply of laughter
  • A sigh of relief
  • An opinion you need to release
  • A bright idea
  • An argument extinguisher: in a relationship emergency, put this box over your face and breathe deeply
  • A beginner’s mind
  • A creative spirit
  • A new beginning
  • Nothing you can’t live without
  • Nothing that matters
  • The silence between notes that makes music beautiful
  • The sound of Jesus meditating for 40 days in the wilderness
  • The sound of Buddha meditating at the Bodhi Tree
  • What is left when you strip away all your illusions about who you are
  • A scoop of wind from the top of a mountain

There were many more, but you get the point. We are so used to giving material gifts at Christmas that it is good to remember that the best gifts are immaterial. Indeed the greatest gifts are ones that are already ours, given to us by God. We simply need to open them.

Here are some gifts I invite you to open this Epiphany. The story of the Magi mentions only three gifts, so I will limit myself to that number as well. Choose any one of them as your Epiphany gift:

  • A glimpse into who you were before the creation of the universe
  • The feel of the silence that underlies all thoughts and emotions
  • A taste of the peace that is your true nature 

At first glance these epiphanies may sound cryptic, but I assure you they are very real. They are more real than any store-bought present you received on Christmas day. In fact in your heart of hearts you already know the Reality that these words describe. 

Just take time to meditate upon one of them and see for yourself. I promise that if you open just one of these treasures, you will desire no other gifts … ever. 

No comments: